The recently-outed Stig of cult BBC
motoring show Top Gear
fame, Ben Collins, has warned his rivals that he will be 'racing to win' when he makes his Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship debut in the Brands Hatch finale this coming weekend – as he refuted notions that he will be a target for his fellow competitors.
Collins has been recruited by Airwaves BMW to join regular drivers Mat Jackson and Steven Kane and bolster the local favourites' chances of pipping Team Aon to the independents' crown at Brands. Having previously tried out the Motorbase-prepared BMW 320si around the Kent circuit late last year, the former single-seater and sportscar ace again got behind the wheel last week at Snetterton, and he confessed that not only was the experience rather different to the V8 Supercar he drove in Australia last year, but it was also one that he thoroughly enjoyed.
“[The test] went really well, and it felt really good to be sat in the Airwaves BMW,” Collins enthused. “It responds so well and is extremely reactive, so as a driver I really felt in-tune with the whole package as we dialled-in a race set-up. Last year I tested this car at Brands and the conditions were appalling, so this was a far more realistic representation of what I can expect at the weekend, and I'm pleased with how it turned out.
“The biggest difference is power; in V8 racing you have to be a lot more delicate on the throttle while touring cars allow you to get your foot down, but there are definite similarities when it comes to the tyres and grip levels so I'll be taking everything I've learnt over the years with me into these three races.”
“We were very happy with Ben's progress, though not surprised with the way he handled the test and worked so well with the entire squad,” added team manager Oliver Collins. “His lap times consistently improved, he developed the car to his driving style and he gives great feedback which will no doubt benefit us as a team going into an important weekend.”
Collins is palpably eagerly anticipating his BTCC bow, and steeling himself for the inevitable rough-and-tumble and aggressive, doorhandle-to-doorhandle action that characterises the country's most popular four-wheeled championship. As a proven race-winner on both the national and international stage, the 35-year-old's presence is sure to add another element of excitement for the tens of thousands of fans expected to descend on Brands – though he was quick to play down suggestions that due to his showbiz reputation, he could be in for a 'lively' time of things.
“The BTCC fans, along with F1 fans, are the very best in motorsport, particularly in Britain,” he underlined. “They are very passionate, and it will be a privilege to race in front of them. The nature of the BTCC means every position is fought for tooth-and-nail down the field, and as this event is on the short Brands Hatch Indy track, it makes the racing even closer for the fans – but I've raced in many professional race series down the years and can give as good as I get.
“To be honest, [the others] should be aiming to beat every other driver with the same hunger, so I'd be surprised if I'm treated any differently. I'm racing to win, and for me that's the only way to enter any race. I can't wait! I must thank Addison Lee, Airwaves, The Money Shop, Leyland Paints and of course Motorbase Performance for giving me this chance – I will do all I can to repay their faith. This is the top race series in the UK, so I want to make as good an impression as possible as it's something I'd dearly love to be part of next season.”